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Tsonga hit a back

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TORONTO - Masai Ujiri remembers being a boy attending a basketball camp in his native northern Nigeria, and the excitement of being given an Hakeem Olajuwon T-shirt. Wholesale Balenciaga Speed Trainer .It was a small gesture with a big impact.My eyes were so wide, to get that T-shirt was unbelievable, Ujiri said.Ujiri speaks passionately about the power of sports to change lives. Hes seen it first-hand through his Giants of Africa camp and Basketball Without Borders, and is himself living proof as the president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors.Its a determination he shared with the late Nelson Mandela, who Ujiri and the Raptors will celebrate Friday in an all-star benefit.How many people in those kinds of positions ever have any kind of relations with sport in some ways other than being like a guest of honour or something? Ujiri said in a phone interview Thursday. But Nelson Mandela, with what he did with rugby, the way he supported sports, I thought it was so impactful because he said it best: sports has the power to impact people and society, and youth. And so I think its a great message for us, its not only a great game, but its a great day to spread that message around the world that we are blessed to have sports and we are blessed to participate in something fun like this.When South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Mandela famously donned the Springbok sweater, a gesture he hoped would help unite his racially-fragmented country.Friday marks the one-year anniversary since Mandelas death at the age of 95.Ujiri has assembled an all-star lineup for the event, including NBA legends Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Dikembe Mutombo, along with UN Goodwill Ambassador and 1999 Miss Universe winner Mpule Kwelagobe. Other guests include Raptors alumnus Tracy McGrady, Toronto Maple Leaf goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, former Toronto Argonauts star Michael (Pinball) Clemons, deputy commissioner of the NBA Mark Tatum and Amadou Fall, vice-president of NBA Africa. Funds raised will go to both the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Ujiris Giants of Africa.Ujiri founded Giants of Africa in 2003, both as a means to enrich the lives of children in Africa, and to shine a spotlight on the abundance of untapped talent there.He signed a deal with Nike to outfit the players. He sees himself in the kids he helps.You see these kids, their faces when you give them shoes and you give them gear, socks and shorts and jerseys and T-shirts, its remarkable how that affects them in some kind of way, and how they want to play the sport more, and even dedicate themselves more, Ujiri said. But its come to a point where I look at myself, and say: We have to look at it even beyond playing. I say How do we really use basketball as a tool? Because now sports has become so general, its important to expose Africa and kids to other aspects of sport.What about sports medicine, and sports journalism, and sports agencies, coaching, and all the different things that you can do in sports, he said. It doesnt have to be making the NBA or it doesnt have to be playing. You can figure out how you can use basketball as a tool and guidance to maybe do something very very reasonable and very very good for your life, and to grow.It doesnt necessarily have to be playing basketball. Im the prime example of that.The six-foot-four Ujiri played basketball in the U.S. at Bismarck State College, and then spent six years playing professionally in Europe. He virtually chiselled out a post-playing career for himself, working as an unpaid scout for the Orlando Magic. He paid his own way on trips at times, and bunked with other scouts and players.He went on to be an international scout for Denver and Toronto, then won NBA executive of the year in 2013 with Denver, where he was the first African-born GM of a major North American sports team. He returned to Toronto to be the teams president and GM in 2013.Ujiri said his summer trips to Africa are the times he looks forward to most. Going spending it in the grinds of not only travelling in Africa and seeing different cultures and different people, but seeing different communities and people, and what makes them tick and what makes them live, and how they live happy, and some of the struggles that they have. It puts life in perspective, Ujiri said. Its a huge part of who I am and what I want to do.Our concentration is sports and how we can build sports, and going into communities to help, whether its teaching basketball, whether its us figuring out charities or foundations that we can help, or us figuring out little courts that we can build, or give them a net, give a basketball team basketballs . . . those are the things we want to continue to build and grow over there. Thats the impact it has on me when I go back in the summer, he said.A big believer in never forgetting where youve come from, Ujiri said his experiences in Africa remain with him in his daily work back in Toronto with the Raptors.Honestly, it puts things in perspective, he said. We take things for granted a lot of times, and I would never forget to be humbled by the position that I am in, and the blessings that I have to be in this position, with such good people around me that give me that opportunity to go help other Africans, and other youth.I have to be a voice, and I have to make an impact on other people. If not, what Im doing here means really nothing.Fridays celebration will begin with a panel discussion. It will continue into Fridays Raptors game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, with video tributes. The Raptors will wear special edition shooting shirts and management will don Giant of Africa lapel pins. The Giant of Africa T-shirts will be for sale, featuring Mandelas five pillars; being a leader, fighting for freedom, creating a better future, committing to the community and using sport to inspire change. Proceeds from sales go to Giants of Africa. Balenciaga Triple S Wholesale . Last year, Islanders forward Colin Mcdonald released a "Do It For Colin" campaign to promote his teammate and friend John Tavares for the EA sports honour:The most popular sports voting video ever has to go to Chris Bosh who showcased his comedic abilities in his effort to get fans to vote him into the 2008 All Star Game:You can vote for TJ and other star players for the NHL 15 cover vote here. Balenciaga Triple S Sale . You can watch the game live on TSN2 and TSN Mobile TV at 9pm et/6pm pt. Jonathan Huberdeau and Quinton Howden are expected to make their debuts for Team Canada. http://www.balenciagacheapshoes.com/balenciaga-triple-s-sale/triple-s-white-discount.html . Or at least on everyone elses expectations. Costa Rica followed up its surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday, beating four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round and eliminate England in the process.PARIS -- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet put France back in the Davis Cup final by winning the doubles and ending the two-year reign of the Czech Republic on Saturday. Tsonga and Gasquet, who won their singles on Friday, gave Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek a rare doubles defeat in Davis Cup, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 at Roland Garros. France, with an unassailable 3-0 lead, made the final for the first time since 2010. It won the last of its nine cups in 2001. The defending champion Czechs needed to win the doubles to keep alive their chances of reaching a third straight final, but Stepanek played with an apparent right hip injury that required frequent treatment, and Berdych, who lost his singles to Gasquet, struggled with consistency. "In the beginning of the second set I felt something in my lower back, I did not pay much attention to it, but with the time spent on the court it was getting worse and worse, and at the end of the second set I was very limited in my movements," said Stepanek, who was unable to sit during the news conference. "In normal circumstances I would have retired, but I believed I had to somehow finish the match." Both captains amended their pairings before the match, but Berdych and Stepanek could not extend their winning partnership, as they were handed only their second loss in 17 doubles in the competition, the last occasion to Spain in the 2009 final. France will either play the final away to Italy or at home against Switzerland. The Swiss lead 2-1 and the French players are already relishing the prospect of taking om Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka from Nov. 21-23. "To host such players is just fabulous," Gasquet said. "I know that Federer has yet to win the Davis Cup, but he has won 17 Grand Slam titles. He can leave us the Davis Cup." Berdych, who struggled to adjust to clay after reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals last week, praised France. "The guy from the French team that played the most in Paris (GGael Monfils), who should play on clay for them, did not even step out on the court," he said. Balenciaga Shoes For Sale. . "Without him, they achieved a great result. It just shows how difficult the Davis Cup is. We did not have as many options as them, that was the difference." France captain Arnaud Clement admitted he was fortunate to have in-form players available. "Today, I had three possible teams, and all of them were capable of winning this match," he said. The French got off to a strong start on centre court, breaking in the second game when Gasquet fired a shot at Berdychs feet. They quickly led 4-1 but dropped three consecutive games as Stepanek raised his level. In the tiebreak, Gasquet unleashed a superb backhand pass to put the French 4-2 ahead, but the the Czechs regained momentum as they won five straight points to close out the set. The French had to dig deep to stave off seven break points early in the second set, and went a break up at 3-2 off Stepaneks serve when Tsonga hit a backhand crosscourt winner. Stepanek and Berdych left the court with the French up 5-4, for a medical timeout. They were greeted with jeers and whistles when they returned after a nearly 10-minute break. Tsonga looked unfazed and held his serve, wrapping up the set with an ace to level the set score. Berdych dropped his focus as he served two consecutive double faults in the error-riddled next game to hand the French a break. The tall Czech was again at fault when he missed a backhand volley on Stepaneks serve, with their opponents moving up 3-0. The twists and turns continued as the Czechs recovered, despite more treatment for Stepanek, who was in obvious pain. They won three straight games to lead 5-4, then failed to hold on to a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak. Gasquet fired a dazzling pass down the line to seal the set, raising his arms in triumph to the delight of the legion of French fans. Stepanek could hardly move in the fourth set, and the French wrapped it up decisively. ' ' '

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